When I make something, I want it to last (unless it’s food). If I put hours into knitting or crocheting, I’d like the finished object to be used for years to come, so choosing the right materials to work with is very important. For example, I have learned that sock yarn is essential for hard-wearing socks – with the best intentions, a normal 4-ply is useless, as you’ll have holey socks in no time at all.
Making slippers has been quite an experiment in terms of finding the right yarn because, unlike socks, there is no yarn specifically designed for slippers. And, my word, does it need to be hard-wearing. Originally I tried out a variety of yarns, but finally settled on Axminster – the stuff they make carpets out of – because this is designed to be walked on day in and day out, just like a pair of slippers. However, by the time that I discovered this yarn, I’d already made several pairs of slippers with other yarns.
My own pair needed repairing some time ago – they are made with a combination of chunky 100% wool yarn and a couple of strands of sock yarn. Mr Snail’s were made from Pure Whitefaced Woodland Wool from Blacker yarns (no longer available), which has lasted about 15 months before wearing through. Mine had new soles a while ago, but Mr Snail’s slippers came in for the Axminster treatment this weekend. Rather than simply darning them (I hate darning), I made them complete Axminster soles, covering up the damaged part and returning them to functionality.
The Axminster yarn contains about 20% nylon to make it much tougher than pure wool. Part of me really wants to use only natural fibres, but I have to acknowledge that the presence of nylon does make this yarn much more hard-wearing and, therefore, ideal for this purpose. I’ve written about yarn ethics in the past and I still struggle to find a perfect option in all cases. However, by choosing this particular yarn for this particular use, my work lasts longer and the slippers need repairing or replacing much less frequently, thus conserving resources and making the best use of my time. I think that’s as good as it’s going to get!